England Women's game with France perfect Six Nations dress rehearsal says head coach Simon Middleton
Last Updated: 05/11/19 11:30pm
England Women’s head coach Simon Middleton believes his side’s double-header with France will be the perfect dress rehearsal for next year’s Six Nations.
The encounter at Stade Marcel Michelin in Clermont on Saturday is the first of three fixtures this month before next year's tournament.
The return game is on November 16 at Exeter's Sandy Park before a final match against Italy at Goldington Road in Bedford on November 23.
And with England to face France again in the opening Six Nations game in February, Middleton says it will be the ideal preparation for his experimental side.
"It couldn't have worked out any better in terms of preparing for the Six Nations," Simon Middleton told Sky Sports.
"France is going to be a huge game right at the start of competition and this will give us an insight into where we are, where they are and probably what to expect.
"We've changed quite a few things around and adapted our game a bit and we want to see how it translates when we get to France.
"It's about managing our way around the field and making sure we play our game in the right areas.
"Then it's a case of working on some of the combinations we've brought in with some of the new players we've brought into the fold."
"So I'm looking forward to seeing how the group get on - you've got to go to these places to prepare for the big games and it's going to be a great learning experience for everyone."
'Red Roses still have room for improvement'
Although England are the reigning Women's Six Nations Grand Slam champions, Middleton believes there is still plenty of room for improvement in his side.
"Performance-wise we're looking at game-by-game improvement," Middleton said.
"Defensive intensity and being able to ramp that up a little bit as well as being a little bit more competitive in and around the break down.
"We also have to manage pressure in the game and trying to keep it off us and putting it on the opposition.